Smell, learn and live: the role of chemical alarm cues in predator learning during early life history in a marine fish

Holmes, Thomas H., and McCormick, Mark I. (2010) Smell, learn and live: the role of chemical alarm cues in predator learning during early life history in a marine fish. Behavioural Processes, 83 (3). pp. 299-305.

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Abstract

The speed with which individuals can learn to identify and react appropriately to predation threats when transitioning to new life history stages and habitats will influence their survival. This study investigated the role of chemical alarm cues in both anti-predator responses and predator identification during a transitional period in a newly settled coral reef damselfish, Pomacentrus amboinensis. Individuals were tested for changes in seven behavioural traits in response to conspecific and heterospecific skin extracts. Additionally, we tested whether fish could learn to associate a previously novel chemical cue (i.e. simulated predator scent) with danger, after previously being exposed to a paired cue combining the conspecific skin extract with the novel scent. Fish exposed to conspecific skin extracts were found to significantly decreased their feeding rate whilst those exposed to heterospecific and control cues showed no change. Individuals were also able to associate a previously novel scent with danger after only a single previous exposure to the paired conspecific skin extract/novel scent cue. Our results indicate that chemical alarm cues play a large role in both threat detection and learned predator recognition during the early post-settlement period in coral reef fishes.

Item ID: 15188
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: chemical cue, anti-predator behaviour, recognition, learning, marine fish
ISSN: 1872-8308
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2011 02:57
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 16
Downloads: Total: 3
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